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What’s allowed under King County’s modified Phase 1?

The Steelhead Diner, owned by Kevin and Terresa Davis, is closed on March 8, 2020, in Seattle. According to the owners, the restaurant closed "due to the social and economic impacts" over COVID-19. (Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)

King County was approved to move into a modified Phase 1 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start plan Friday.

Safe Start is a phased-in, county by county approach to reopening businesses and resuming activities statewide while minimizing the impact of COVID-19. Washington State Secretary of Health John Wiesman approved King County’s modified Phase 1 application Friday.

King County has not quite meet the threshold to apply for Phase 2, but the governor released more flexibility in the phased approach that allow counties to apply for modified or in-between phases with additional guidance. To move forward to Phase 2, the county will need to see less than 25 cases per 100,000 residents over a 14-day span.

King County moving ‘in the right direction’ in quelling COVID-19 outbreak

In the modified Phase 1, or “Phase 1.5,” restaurants, in-store retail, personal services, professional services, and construction may resume with varying requirements for capacity. The modified phase includes some of the same openings as seen in Phase 2, but with more limits.

It also allows for outdoor gatherings of five people or fewer, however public health officials have recently expressed support of the protests that have been happening throughout the state and King County, provided attendees are wearing masks and continuing to monitor their health.

All reopening businesses must meet the industry specific guidelines as outlined by the state and adjust their occupancy level accordingly to allow for social distancing. It’s also recommended to limit indoor operations to 30 minutes when possible, with face-to-face interactions limited to 30 minutes as well.

Here’s an overview of what’s allowed in King County in this modified phase:

  • Outdoor dining allowed at 50% capacity, all tables and chairs to be 6 feet apart — restaurants must seek approval to expand outdoor seating with their respective city, or with the county for those in unincorporated King County
  • Indoor dining may operate at 25% capacity, with tables and chairs 6 feet apart
  • Non-essential retail operations may resume with an occupancy no higher than 15% of capacity
  • Essential retail activities may continue as previously allowed
  • Personal services, including hairstylists, barbers, manicurists, and tattoo artists, may operate at no more than 25% capacity, or with one client in the case of a studio with a single bed or chair
  • Professional services, like accountants or attorneys, are allowed to resume activities at no more than 25% of capacity
  • All construction, including those for which social distancing can’t be maintained, and the start of new projects, may restart

Public Health – Seattle & King County will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission trends, medical capacity, and other key indicators to inform any additional reopening decisions.

“This important step in our COVID-19 response reflects all the sacrifice and hard work that our community has put into fighting this disease. The success of this guidance depends on business owners and community members embracing public health best practices, and understanding that one size doesn’t fit all,” said King County Executive Dow Constantine. “By opening our economy carefully and deliberately, we make sure to stay healthy and continue down the path to full recovery.”

The same personal health guidance applies as businesses and activities restart, including wearing masks in public places, continuing good hygiene practices, and following social distancing measures.

Snohomish, Pierce counties approved for Phase 2, King County gets ‘modified’ Phase 1

On Friday, 14 counties in Washington state were approved to move into the next phase of the Safe Start plan. There is a total of five counties in Phase 1, one county (King) in a modified Phase 1, 26 in Phase 2, and seven in Phase 3.

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